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Research


December 16, 2015

Composting food waste remains your best option, says UW study

food scraps in compost bin

A new University of Washington study confirms that composting food scraps is better than throwing them away, and also calculates the environmental benefits associated with keeping these organic materials out of landfills.


December 15, 2015

Fuel economy improvements in US climate commitment on par with 1970s gains

Photo of 1970s Datsun ad

A new UW study finds that fuel efficiency improvements needed to meet U.S. climate commitments are on par with what the auto industry delivered in the 1970s and 1980s.


December 14, 2015

Seattle’s Ballard is ripe for green-space restoration, new report says

A vacant lot at Northwest 65th Street and 7th Avenue Northwest in the West Woodland section of Ballard.

A University of Washington graduate student saw green-starved Ballard as an opportunity to call attention to areas in the neighborhood that have restoration potential. Her new report, the “Ballard Green Spaces Project,” identifies 55 sites that could be restored as natural areas for people and wildlife, increasing the neighborhood’s total amount of accessible green spaces.


History meets geography: James Gregory’s collaborative digital project tracks key 20th century social movements

James Gregory

UW historian James Gregory’s new collaborative digital project, “Mapping American Social Movements through the 20th Century” uses data visualization and interactive maps to depict the progress of various social movements — with more to come.


December 10, 2015

Trees either hunker down or press on in a drying and warming western U.S. climate

Trembling aspen.

Two University of Washington researchers have uncovered details of the radically divergent strategies that two common tree species employ to cope with drought in southwestern Colorado. As they report in a new paper in the journal Global Change Biology, one tree species shuts down production and conserves water, while the other alters its physiology to continue growing and using water.


December 9, 2015

Iceland volcano’s eruption shows how sulfur particles influence clouds

lava and big emission plume

The long, slow 2014 eruption of Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano offers a testbed to show how sulfur emissions, from volcanoes or humans, act to brighten clouds and reflect more sunlight.


December 8, 2015

Culture wars, Christianity at heart of UW political scientist Mark Smith’s book ‘Secular Faith’

Mark A. Smith's "Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics" was published in September by University of Chicago Press.

Mark A. Smith is a University of Washington professor of political science and adjunct professor of comparative religion. He is the author of “Secular Faith: How Culture Has Trumped Religion in American Politics,” published in September by University of Chicago Press. He answered a few questions about his book for UW Today. What’s the concept…


December 7, 2015

What makes Tom Hanks look like Tom Hanks?

UW researchers reconstructed have 3-D models of celebrities such as Tom Hanks from  Internet photo collections. The models can be controlled by photos or videos of another person.

UW researchers have reconstructed 3-D models of celebrities such as Tom Hanks from large Internet photo collections. The model can deliver speeches that the real actor never performed – one step toward developing fully interactive digital personas of people from family or historic photo collections.


December 4, 2015

UW project focuses on fines and fees that create ‘prisoners of debt’

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Criminals are meant to pay their debts to society through sentencing, but a different type of court-imposed debt can tie them to the criminal justice system for life and impact their ability to move forward with their lives. Though debtors’ prisons were eliminated in the United States almost two centuries ago, a modern-day version exists…


December 3, 2015

Citizen-science climate project adds logs from historic Arctic whaling ships

handwritten pages with whale sketches

A citizen science project that asks volunteers to transcribe historic ships’ logbooks to uncover data about past Arctic climate has added logbooks from hundreds of whaling ships. The hunters’ handwritten logs will provide new clues about the history of Arctic climate and sea ice.


December 2, 2015

Vessel speed biggest factor in noise affecting killer whales

Digital acoustic recording tags temporarily attached to killer whales measured vessel noise reaching the whales.

The speed of vessels operating near endangered killer whales in Washington is the most influential factor – more so than vessel size – in how much noise from the boats reaches the whales, according to a new study published today in the online journal PLOS ONE.


December 1, 2015

Washington state home prices up, sales down in third quarter of 2015

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Home sale prices increased but sales themselves were fewer in Washington state in the third quarter of 2015, according to the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies in the UW’s College of Built Environments.


UW roboticists learn to teach robots from babies

photos of gaze experiments

A collaboration between University of Washington developmental psychologists and computer scientists has demonstrated that robots can “learn” much like babies – by experiencing the world and eventually imitating humans.


November 30, 2015

UW researchers estimate poverty and wealth from cell phone metadata

The northern and western provinces are divided into cells (the smallest administrative unit of the country), and the cell is shaded according to the average (predicted) wealth of all mobile subscribers in that cell. The southern province is overlaid with a Voronoi diagram that uses geographic identifiers in the call data to divide the region into several hundred thousand small partitions, which each may be as small as a household or a microvillage.

In developing or war-ravaged countries where government censuses are few and far between, gathering data for public services or policymaking can be difficult, dangerous or near-impossible. Big data is, after all, mainly a First World opportunity. But cell towers are easier to install than telephone land lines, even in such challenged areas, and mobile or…


November 25, 2015

The spillover effect: Good teaching doesn’t stop at the classroom door

Jirka Matousek/Flickr

Effective teachers don’t just impact their own students’ achievement, they can significantly improve the performance of their fellow teachers’ students, new research shows.


November 23, 2015

AAAS names four UW researchers as fellows

campus-TILE

Four University of Washington researchers are among 347 new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for 2015.


November 19, 2015

Sequencing algae’s genome may aid biofuel production

Chrysochromulina tobin

University of Washington scientists have sequenced the complete genetic makeup of a species of ecologically important algae, which may aid in biofuel production.


November 18, 2015

Popular Science names ‘Power Over Wi-Fi’ one of the year’s game-changing technologies

Photo of device

The Power Over Wi-Fi (PoWiFi) system developed by UW engineers is one of the most innovative and game-changing technologies of the year, according to Popular Science, which included it in the magazine’s annual “Best of What’s New” awards announced this week.


November 17, 2015

New report outlines Puget Sound region’s future under climate change

ferry with mountains

A new report by the University of Washington synthesizes all the relevant research about the future of the Puget Sound region to paint a picture of what to expect in the coming decades, and how to prepare.


November 16, 2015

UW team refrigerates liquids with a laser for the first time

Photo of crystal

Since the first laser was invented in 1960, they’ve always given off heat. University of Washington researchers are the first to solve a decades-old puzzle — figuring out how to make a laser refrigerate water and other liquids.


Microbes that are key indicators of Puget Sound’s health in decline

A variety of foraminifera (or forams) — single-celled, marine organisms that live on the sea floor. UW Burke Museum researchers have found forams in Washington’s Bremerton and Bellingham Bay waters have declined in health and numbers, even when chemical testing of the waters fall within healthy limits.

Paleontologists with the University of Washington’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture find that tiny organisms called foraminifera have a big story to tell about the health of Puget Sound. Two recent studies about the health of Bellingham Bay and inlets in the Bremerton area found the diversity and number of foraminifera — single-celled marine organisms that live on the sea floor — deteriorated significantly. The decline of these microscopic organisms is consistent with the deterioration of snails and other larger marine animals, even though analysis showed a reduction of chemical pollutants in Bellingham Bay and Bremerton over the same period of time.


November 13, 2015

Industry leaders gather at first ever University of Washington Innovation Summit in Shanghai

Speakers at the University of Washington’s inaugural Innovation Summit, held November 13 in Shanghai, China. From left: Adina Mangubat, Jiande Chen, Chris Gregoire, Ralph Haupter, Ana Mari Cauce, Yuan Ming, Vikram Jandhyala, Shwetak Patel, Gina Neff and Ben Waters. (Not pictured: Wang Jian)

The University of Washington held its first ever Innovation Summit today in Shanghai, China. The event brought together industry leaders from China and the United States, who discussed how they are turning ideas into impact, connecting academia to industry and helping solve the world’s most pressing problems.


November 12, 2015

Oceans — and ocean activism — deserve broader role in climate change discussions

Joshua Cinner, at Australia's James Cook University, interviews fishermen in Papua New Guinea about adapting to changing social and environmental conditions.

When President Barack Obama visited the shrinking Exit Glacier in September, he pointed to a very obvious sign of our warming planet literally at his feet. Less visible, but perhaps more indelible, signs of changing climate lie in the oceans. A University of Washington researcher argues in the journal Science that people — including world…


‘Pale orange dot’: Early Earth’s haze may give clue to habitability elsewhere in space

An image of Saturn's haze-shrouded moon Titan taken by the Cassini spacecraft. The UW-based Virtual Planetary Laboratory studied records of the haze on early Earth to see how such atmospheric conditions might affect an exoplanet, or one beyond our solar system. They found that such a haze might show the world is habitable, or that life itself is present.

An atmospheric haze around a faraway planet — like the one which probably shrouded and cooled the young Earth — could show that the world is potentially habitable, or even be a sign of life itself.


November 11, 2015

UW, NASA measure rain and snowfall to gauge new precipitation satellite

clouds on water

With high-tech weather radars, weather balloons, ground instruments and NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory, scientists will be watching rain and snow storms on Washington’s famously wet Olympic Peninsula.


November 3, 2015

Life, enhanced: UW professors study legal, social complexities of an augmented reality future

A mockup of an augmented reality mobile phone using a curved LED screen that renders augmented reality data for the wearer/user from cameras mounted on one or both sides.

A report from the interdisciplinary UW Tech Policy Lab on the challenges of augmented reality suggests such systems should be adaptable to change, resistant to hacking and responsive to the needs of diverse users.


November 2, 2015

Children’s self-esteem already established by age 5, new study finds

stock photo of children dressed as superheroes

By age 5 children have a sense of self-esteem comparable in strength to that of adults, according to a new study by University of Washington researchers.


UW to co-lead West Coast ‘Big Data brain trust’ for NSF

Logo_eScience-stacked (002) copy

The National Science Foundation has selected the University of Washington, along with the University of California, San Diego and the University of California, Berkeley, to co-lead one of four Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs around the country.


October 29, 2015

UW scientists are the first to simulate 3-D exotic clouds on an exoplanet

Artistic depiction of exoplanet GJ1214b.

A nearby exoplanet has an atmosphere that might be similar to Earth’s before life evolved. In an attempt to simulate the structure of this exoplanet’s atmosphere, UW researchers became the first to simulate three-dimensional exotic clouds on another world.


October 28, 2015

Alaskan trout choose early retirement over risky ocean-going career

dolly varden trout

A new study in Ecology shows that Alaskan Dolly Varden trout, once they reach about 12 inches in length, can retire permanently from going to sea. They rely on digestive organs that can massively expand and contract and a unique relationship with sockeye salmon.


October 22, 2015

New UW model helps zero in on harmful genetic mutations

gene splicing illustration

By more accurately predicting how variations in DNA sequences affect gene splicing, a new UW model and publicly available Web tool can help narrow down which genetic mutations cause disease and which have little effect on a person’s health.


October 21, 2015

Gear, not geoducks, impacts ecosystem if farming increases

Geoduck clams after harvesting.

The equipment used to farm geoducks, including PVC pipes and nets, might have a greater impact on the Puget Sound food web than the addition of the clams themselves. That’s one of the findings of the first major scientific study to examine the broad, long-term ecosystem effects of geoduck aquaculture in Puget Sound.


October 20, 2015

UW study: Will Puget Sound’s population spike under climate change?

Seattle panorama at night

A UW graduate student’s research paper is the first serious study of whether climate change is likely to cause human migration to the Puget Sound region.


October 15, 2015

Affordable camera reveals hidden details invisible to the naked eye

Compared to an image taken with a normal camera (left), HyperCam images (right) reveal detailed vein and skin texture patterns that are unique to each individual.

Peering into a grocery store bin, it’s hard to tell if a peach or tomato or avocado is starting to go bad underneath its skin. A new affordable hyperspectral camera technology developed by UW and Microsoft Research uses both visible and invisible near-infrared light to “see” beneath surfaces and capture hidden details.


October 14, 2015

Venture capital investors with competing interests can inhibit innovation

Print

For entrepreneurs, connections are as good as gold. Especially connections with the right investors. But connections with the wrong investors can inhibit a firm’s ability to innovate, according to new research from the Foster School of Business.


New study uses high-speed search methods to better estimate climate threats to biodiversity

Yellow-banded poison dart frog

In a study published this week in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers have used new high-performance computing methods and comprehensive data on the distribution of thousands of species to map the threat that climate change poses to birds, mammals and amphibians across the Western Hemisphere. They found that although Arctic areas have experienced the most rapid warming to date, climate-related threats to the Amazon basin’s biodiversity will eclipse those in other regions by the year 2100.


Bubble plumes off Washington, Oregon suggest warmer ocean may be releasing frozen methane

Sonar image of bubbles rising from the seafloor off the Washington coast.

The location of bubble plumes off the Pacific Northwest coast supports the idea that gradual ocean warming at about a third of a mile depth may be releasing frozen methane in the seafloor, causing it to bubble up as a gas.


October 12, 2015

UW remains fifth in global ranking of university achievements in scientific research

globe-TILE

Continuing a recent string of noteworthy accolades, the University of Washington held its place at No. 5 in the world on the National Taiwan University Ranking of Scientific Papers, which was released Friday. The ranking is based on performance of scientific papers in three major categories — research productivity, research impact and research excellence. “One…


New UW School of Law group to study marijuana regulation for state of Washington

law_featuredimage

A new group at the UW School of Law will spend the academic year studying existing and emerging markets for marijuana, to assist and inform the state as it prepares to blend current medical and recreational markets for cannabis.


October 7, 2015

Student collaboration leads to first results describing sick sea star immune response

Students in the Ecology of Infectious Marine Diseases course do surveys for eelgrass disease.

A group of young marine-disease researchers from around the country has contributed key information about sea stars’ immune response when infected with a virus that is thought to cause a deadly wasting disease. It’s the first time researchers have tracked how genes behave when encountering this naturally occurring pathogen, which could help explain how sea stars attempt to fight the virus and why they develop lesions and appear to melt.



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